As Nigeria mounts its first prosecution under the new Piracy Act, UNODC and the EU pledge their continued support to strengthening criminal justice response to maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea

Abuja, 20 July 2020 - On May 14, 2020, ten persons allegedly hijacked the fishing vessel Hailufeng 11. On May 16, 2020, the Nigerian Navy carried out a rescue operation 140 nautical miles south of the Lagos Fairway Buoy. The 18 crew members were rescued, and the ten suspects arrested.

On 13 July 2020, the suspects were arraigned at the Federal High Court in Lagos and the court case is progressing. This is the first ever trial of a piracy case in Nigeria, under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act of June 2019.

This at a time when piracy and other maritime crimes continue to persist – even increase - in the Gulf of Guinea. Most attacks, nowadays, are kidnappings for ransom. A recent report by the International Maritime Bureau indicates a surge in kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea, with the region accounting for 90% of the maritime kidnappings committed worldwide. Pirate groups involved have grown more sophisticated and are now capable to operate far off the coast and to project themselves across the entire Gulf of Guinea.

Considering the importance of this trial, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) wish to highlight their continued support to strengthening the criminal justice response across West Africa within the framework of the project Support to West African Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS).

 

Specific actions planned under the project to further support of the implementation of the ECOWAS Maritime Strategy in the coming months include:

  • Provide comprehensive e-learning training platforms to maritime crime practitioners;
  • Donate video teleconferencing (VTC) and hardware equipment to ameliorate the quality of current and future trials of piracy and maritime crime cases;
  • Share technical expertise in drafting and applying legal procedures for maritime crimes; and
  • Assist in mitigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the maritime criminal justice systems in Nigeria and the other West African countries.

The UNODC and the EU remain committed to the fight against piracy and other maritime crime in West Africa and will continue to support Nigeria’s criminal justice response to maritime crime.

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